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ANG European theater security package arrives in Bulgaria

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- The U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander spoke to U.S. and Bulgarian Airmen and local community leaders about the Air Force's first European theater security package (TSP) of F-15C Eagles deployed to Graf Ignatievo Air Base, near Plovdiv, Bulgaria, May 11.

Gen. Frank Gorenc, the USAFE-AFAFRICA commander, welcomed the approximately 200 Airmen of the 159th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to Europe.

"These 200 Airmen and 12 F-15s led by the Florida National Guard and comprised of Airmen and equipment from several National Guard units provide a strategic symbol as they represent the United States' commitment to European security and stability," Gorenc said.

The squadron will fly with NATO allies and support Operation Atlantic Resolve. OAR is a demonstration of U.S. European Command and USAFE-AFAFRICA's continued commitment to the collective security of Europe and dedication to the enduring peace and stability in the region.

"The mission of the Bulgarian Air Force is to guard and protect the sovereignty of Bulgarian airspace," Gorenc said. "The men and women of this TSP look forward to working with you to further our collective defense."

The U.S. Air Force's forward presence in Europe, augmented by a rotational force like the TSP, allows us to work with our allies to develop and improve ready air forces capable of maintaining regional security," Gorenc explained.

While this is the first time the ANG has deployed to Europe as a TSP, these types of deployments are not new to the Air Force. Fighter squadrons have been deploying like this to the Pacific since 2004.

"We know how much effort and resources it takes to be deployed here," said Maj. Gen. Rumen Radev, the Bulgarian Air Force commander. "I want to thank the U.S. Air Force command represented by Gen. Gorenc, because you are here again and our joint training continues. If the Bulgarian Air Force is an inseparable part from the alliance today, it is to a great extent because of these trainings."

Florida ANG’s 125th Fighter Wing leads the first ANG theater security package to deploy in support of OAR. The aircraft and Airmen are based out of units in Florida, Oregon, California, Massachusetts and various bases throughout Europe. Regardless of their origin, together, they make up the 159th EFS.